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Transgressive Utopianism

Essays in Honor of Lucy Sargisson


Edited By Raffaella Baccolini and Lyman Tower Sargent

In 2014, when Lucy Sargisson was promoted to professor in the School of Politics and International Relations, at the University of Nottingham, she became the first and, so far, only, professor of utopian studies. This choice symbolized the centrality of utopianism to her life, thought, and educational practice. In three books, each in their own way groundbreaking, a fourth book co-authored by one of us, and in important articles, her work falls into four primary areas: political theory, feminism, environmentalism, and intentional communities, with much of her work intersecting two, three, or even all four. And in all her work, she brings the lens of utopianism to bear on the subject and, in doing so, illuminates both utopianism and the subject at hand. The volume honors Sargisson’s contributions to the field of utopian studies, with contributions by Ibtisam Ahmed, Raffaella Baccolini, David M. Bell, Suryamayi Clarence-Smith, Chris Coates, Elena Colombo, Davina Cooper, Rhiannon Firth, Ruth Levitas, Sarah Lohmann, Almudena Machado-Jiménez, Dunja M. Mohr, Tom Moylan, Robyn Muir, José Reis, Lyman Tower Sargent, Lucy Sargisson, Simon Spiegel, Maria Varsam, and Laura Winter.

«Utopian scholars and practical utopians alike can be nourished by the richly diverse articles of this touching tribute to an important activist scholar. This timely collection is a treasure trove of vital insights into how thinkers and activists sharing a vision of a better world can collaborate to help move us toward it. Sargisson personifies key utopian themes in her engaged teaching, feminist and ecological sensibilities, literary analysis, on-site communal research, and insistence on the dynamic link between utopia and politics. By transgressing disciplinary and normative boundaries that confine our imaginations and actions, she frees us to explore our aspirations and imperfections, our individuality and connection to others, our powers and vulnerabilities.» (Michael S. Cummings, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and University of Colorado President’s Teaching Scholar)

«I have known Lucy since 1999 when, together with Jim Arnold, we formed the initial secretariat for the newly reinvigorated Utopian Studies Society. As we came to know her, it was evident to us that Lucy was greatly respected by colleagues and students alike. Some of them have honoured her in this volume. Her genuine openness to collaboration and her spirit of positivity contributed significantly to the ultimate success of the endeavour. Though our professional lives were lived in very different settings, we shared a love of the Scottish landscape and an enduring interest in Utopian and communitarian projects, historical and contemporary. The warmth and sincerity of her friendship is valued by very many people among whom I am privileged to be included. If he were still with us on this earth, I know that Jim would be in wholehearted agreement.» (Lorna Davidson, Retired Director, New Lanark Conservation Trust and former Secretary of the Utopian Studies Society)